It begins: Tonight is the kickoff of the 2011 Capital Fringe Festival, now in its sixth year, and over the next 18 days, local theatergoers can expect to see a wild grab bag of shows about anything from cheerleading to September 11 to hedgehogs. In this year’s sprawling festival there are more than 100 shows at 19 venues, presenting the annual challenge: Which of the Fringe’s myriad offerings should you see?

Well, we have a few ideas. Yesterday, Going Out Gurus Lavanya and Stephanie unveiled their Fringe picks: “Pascal’s Aquarium,” “Between Takeoff and Landing” (the aforementioned September 11 show), and “e-Geaux (beta)” were among their favorites. And for those looking to really explore the three-ring-circus that is Fringe, they recommend aerial show “UPheaval” and flamethrowing light show “Illuminopolis.”

(Courtesy DC Aerial Collective)

But if you’d rather judge for yourself which Fringe shows are worth checking out, we’ve got a collection of trailers for select shows. See which ones entice you to buy the $7 Fringe button (a one-time purchase for the festival) and $17 tickets, then vote in the poll. Dig deeper with Peter Marks’ Sunday story on how the Fringe has changed Washington: It “has helped to foster a looser spirit in Washington’s art world. It has given further license to innovation and continues to be a necessary counterpoint to the city’s over-arching favoring of monuments and large institutions.”

But most of all, check back here on Arts Post every day for your daily dose of Fringe news. We’ll be reviewing several shows each day, and aggregating picks from Washington’s many theater bloggers (hat tips aplenty to City Paper’s Fringe and Purge blog, DC Theatre Scene, and DCist, among others).

A full listing of today’s shows, via GOG.

Today’s Fringe:

• Get a lesson in Fringe-cabulary with this word cloud of the most frequently-used terms to describe Capital Fringe shows.

• Capital Fringe’s Daily Dose, presented by Cory Ryan Frank, has some tips for voting for your favorite shows, and getting free tickets via volunteering.

• DC Theatre Scene explains the story behind this year’s gloomy button art, a ship in the midst of a stormy sea.

• Many of Fringe and Purge’s picks align with the GOG Blog’s.

Brightest Young Things has some great photos of the preview night, and we’ve got some great video.